In the first part of this series I wrote about how unit prices, resident age and income are data points for high-rise buyers to consider before purchasing their castle in the sky. The reason for these calculations is to better understand if a building matches a buyer’s philosophy. Of course this information doesn’t produce a complete picture. It’s also incumbent on any buyer to meet with the building manager of any high-rise under consideration to understand the personality and finances of the building. But much like employment references where many are non-committal rather than honest, it may require astute reading between the lines.
Younger buyers may be more open to change, maintenance, and improvements. But they may also have economic constraints the further away they are from peak-earning years. Meaning that buildings with high proportions of owners in their 20s and 30s may suffer from the same economic paralysis as buildings with majorities in their 70s and 80s. The difference being the younger building will WANT to do new things but can’t.
So, how do you find a building with a sweet spot age range? Jump for more.
Calculating The Youngest
There are a few measurements needed to arrive at the “youngest” buildings. One metric (above) catalogs the buildings with the most homesteads (primary residences) NOT claiming the “Over 65” exemption. For many, this may be all they need. But there is nuance gained from tapping additional measurements.
As you can see below, by also measuring the buildings with the lowest percentage of owners claiming both the homestead and “over 65” exemptions, more detail appears. For example, we see that SOCO Urban Lofts has the most homestead owners under 65 years old AND one of the lowest percentages of owners claiming the “over 65” exemption. (Looks good, right?)
But there’s a third measurement to consider. What percentage of owners are not homestead owners? In the case of SOCO Urban Lofts, 41% of owners do not consider it their primary residence. The most likely reasons for not listing a property as a homestead are because an owner’s actual primary residence is worth more resulting in a larger tax break (a city pad for a couple from Lewisville) OR it’s an investment unit (rental).
Coincidently, as of this writing there are five units for purchase and two for rent at SOCO which nicely translates to 40 percent rental and 60 percent homestead. Now I don’t think all 41 percent of units are rentals, but given the lower overall prices for units, I’d hazard a high percentage are. It’s also less-likely empty-nesters from Wichita Falls would seek an urban loft as their Dallas crash pad.
NOTE: Rental units are not bad per se. Each tenant is different, although the closer a tenant is to dorm living, often the fewer their manners. But high proportions of non-homestead units (second homes and rentals) mask the true age distribution of the ownership. And in masking the age distribution, it’s less accurate to predict age and possibly economically related actions.
Crunching these three data points together, SOCO Urban Lofts is the “youngest building” in terms of ownership in Dallas – 56 percent under 65 years old, 3 percent 65 and older, and 41 percent non-homestead. With prices ranging from $175 to $220 per square foot, it’s likely a starter condo for swingles under 40 years old. It’s equally likely that even with a significant rental pool, the tenants mirror this age range. However, the age range of who actually owns the “hidden” 41 percent non-homestead units is unknown. It’s likely many turned rental by original owners who moved on at a time when the market was suffering.
One Arts Plaza represents a more balanced No. 2 with 52 percent of homestead owners under 65, 25 percent over 65, and just 23 percent second home/rental. Given the unit costs at One Arts Plaza – as much as 5 times more per square foot than SOCO – I believe there’s a higher number of second home ownership than rentals. One Arts Plaza is where 40- to 60-year-old urban millionaires live.
The W Residences are an odd duo. Both South and North towers have very low ownership over 65 years old (1 percent and 4 percent, respectively). BUT both have enormous numbers of non-homestead owners (71 percent South and 75 percent North) – the highest in the city after the Highland’s 78 percent. Given the price points at The W Residences, I would normally say that there are a sizeable number of second homeowners but the recession took a heavy toll on Victory Park prices. I’m guessing this forced many units into rentals. As of this writing, 60 percent of South tower listings are rentals while 56 percent of North listings are rentals.
The remaining buildings – The Beat, Travis, Wyndemere, Metropolitan and Renaissance are all about the same. Each has about 45 to 55 percent rental/second home ownership (likely leaning towards rental) and higher-than-average ownership under 65 years old and sub-10 percent falling into the over 65 category. These buildings will tend towards younger, if more transient ownership.
Why This Matters
The point of all this research isn’t to suggest high-rises should have homogenous populations. This isn’t a “Red State,” “Blue State,” “Young State,” “Old State,” segregation. After all, 25 or 95, rich or poor, good neighbors are good neighbors. The point is gauging a building mindset, specifically regarding how a high-rise is run and maintained.
In spanking-new buildings, little will need replacing in the first decade, but as the years wear on, more and more infrastructure needs replacing and refurbishment. Do a majority of condo owners feel the same way about handling these things? Do you want a building that prioritizes spending on pretty things over structural problems? Do you want a building that refuses to “fill the cavity” preferring to leave the costly “root canal” for others to deal with (and pay for) years later?
Short of interviewing every owner, a buyer must infer from available data. In this case, owner age, unit cost and percentages of non-homestead ownership offer a general direction.
Next week, I’ll round out this trio of columns by talking about Dallas’ oldest and most balanced building ownership.
Remember: Do you have an HOA story to tell? A little high-rise history? Realtors, want to feature a listing in need of renovation or one that’s complete with flying colors? How about hosting a Candy’s Dirt Staff Meeting? Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (they’re legal now). email@example.com